New book focuses on how to market better nutrition

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Just because people know that a food is nutritious does not mean they will eat it. In fact, efforts by government officials, health professionals and even parents have been surprisingly ineffective in getting people to consume a more nutritious diet -- that is, a diet that is heart-healthy and reduces the risks of obesity, diabetes, cancer and other diseases.

"This has lead to floundering sales for soy foods, embarrassing results for expensive Five-a-Day for Better Health programs and uneaten mountains of vegetables at homes and in school cafeterias," says Brian Wansink, a Cornell University marketing professor and the author of the new book, "Marketing Nutrition: Soy, Functional Foods, Biotechnology, and Obesity" (University of Illinois Press).

Marketing nutritious foods is very different from marketing toothpaste or any other product for that matter, the book points out. That's because consumers already know what they like, regardless of how much they know about the benefits of healthful eating.

"Unfortunately, many people will not eat any better even if we can get them to pass a nutrition quiz," writes Wansink, an expert on how advertising, packaging and personality traits all influence a person's eating habits. He is director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, a group of interdisciplinary researchers who have conducted more than 200 studies on the psychology behind what people eat and how often they eat it. A primary focus of the lab is to help companies develop "win-win" ways to encourage people to eat more nutritiously.

The book, intended not only for brand managers but also for health professionals, public policy officials and researchers, identifies 14 problems that now interfere with effective nutrition marketing, such as how consumers turn away from good nutrition, their frustration with the federal recommendations to eat five servings a day of fruits and vegetables, marketing to counter the drivers of obesity and targ

Contact: Blaine Friedlander
Cornell University News Service

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